Forget waiting until spring. The new year, with all its promises of fresh starts, is a good time to give your home a little makeover.
We’ve looked around a bit and found some helpful tips that will help get your home in shape for months to come.
Make the most of the weather
In other words, take advantage of the cold. Everyone in Louisiana knows how unbearable it is to rummage around in your attic most of the year, but getting up there in the winter isn’t so bad.
Renée Ory, of the Lafayette organizing and design company Amazing Spaces, said January’s cooler temperatures provide an advantage when it comes to housekeeping.
“This is the perfect time to clean places that get really hot in the summer, like your attic and your garage,” she said.
While most say it’s best to clean one room at a time, others recommend that you’re better off picking a specific task — like dusting — and doing it in each room. However you go about it, one thing is clear: It’s important to have a system. If not, you’ll likely be going over old ground, making the process feel insurmountable.
Picking a start and end point in each room helps, and don’t forget to clean from top to bottom.
Go through the seanal decorations
Sure, picking up Christmas decorations is fun, but do you ever actually use them all? As Ory points out, cleaning in the new year means taking down Christmas decor, so take the opportunity to look at the decorations that haven’t been used for a while.
“Use that time to throw away anything you haven’t used in the past few years,” Ory said. “For example, you can donate it to a charity. It will help you prepare for the coming year’s decorating season.”
Ory said donating decorations to a charity reduces while it adds up.
Clear out trash
Decluttering is something that is definitely best chipped away at over a long period of time.
However, if you’re going to try it during your annual cleaning, there are a few things to consider. Attack storage areas first to make room. Try not to hold on to something with a “don’t worry, I’ll sell it later” approach since, let’s face it, it probably won’t happen.
If you also worry about whether you should keep or throw something away, consider the wise words of Marie Kondo: Does it bring joy?
Clean shelves, cabinets and appliances
Take a look around and give your kitchen appliances – oven, stove, microwave, dishwasher – a solid cleaning inside and out. Pay special attention to the toaster as there can easily be enough crumbs rustling around the bottom to start a small bonfire.
Also look at shelves, and don’t forget medicine cabinets and spice cabinets. While you’re at it, check expiration dates and throw out anything that’s gone bad. After all, it is easy for spices and medicines to hide in the back of the cupboard for years.
Clean the fridge
Refrigerators can get pretty dirty pretty quickly. The best idea is to go through them shelf by shelf, starting at the top.
Give the shelves a good wipe down, and if they are particularly dirty, carefully remove them and wash them in soapy water.
Over the holiday season, they can also easily become overloaded with unused and spoiled food, so use the time to throw out any old food while you’re at it.
Also give the bottoms of any jars a wipe if necessary, as you don’t want them to undo all your hard work once you put them back.
Don’t burn out
This one is important. Not only can cleaning be draining, but it can also feel overwhelming, especially if it seems like there’s a lot to cover.
The trick is to start small. Paddi Barnes, of the housekeeping organization FlyLady, suggests breaking your home into zones and working on a little bit in each one at a time.
“You don’t want to be overwhelmed,” says Barnes. “When you are overwhelmed, you sit on the floor and you cry. You have to make it fun.
“If you make it a chore, it’s not going to happen. But if it’s a five-minute mission, you can do five minutes. You can do two minutes. Take baby steps.”
Remember: a little at a time goes a long way. All you have to do is try it.